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Sgt Grit Newsletter - 09 APR 2015

In this issue:
• 1922... Now This Is Old Corps
• Stories About Boot Camp

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Dear Sgt Grit,

Jordan xxxxx died two years ago. I'm his oldest son. I'm ten years old. I have a younger brother and an older sister. So, I really like your magazines.


P.S. Please send more magazines.

By the way, I like your magazines because my dad was a Marine. I want to be a Marine too.

Note: A catalog was mailed to Carter the same day we received his letter.

Sgt Grit

1922... Now This Is Old Corps

I served with VMFA-314 from Nov. '67 to Dec. '68 in Chu Lai. In a past posting, I had mentioned Operation Military Embrace, and the Watermelon Run For The Fallen in Hempstead, TX, where I had reunited with some of my Vietnam brothers last August. This time, I'm sending some pictures of my father, Harry W. Kiehnle, who enlisted in 1922. He was a seagoing Marine and a bugler, who was stationed on the Battleship Utah for the Friendship tour of South America that sent General John J. Pershing to meet with South American heads of state, as he was still highly respected after having served as General of the Armies in WW I.

The first picture is four buglers (my father on the left) leaving music school at PI, headed for Sea School at Quantico, next are two pictures of the firing range in the Virgin Islands (my dad is in the t-shirt), third picture is inspection of the Marine Contingent on board the Utah, and finally, General Pershing and dignitaries aboard the ship.

CPL. James Kiehnle 1966-1970
Chu Lai, Vietnam 1967-1968​

Stories About Boot Camp

Everybody has his stories about Boot Camp. 3 October 1958, 3rd Bn, Plt 347, Sgt Liston Baggett the first day.

"I'm from so far south I call people from Georgia Yankees"
"Raise your hand if the judge sent you here," about six or seven hands went up.
"Anyone from a town of more than twenty thousand is a Hoodlum, We specialize in Hoodlums."
From there on it was all down hill...

Now it's 1996, and I'm visiting my folks folks in Florida. I am living in Spain working in offshore drilling oilfield pretty sure I've got my sh-t together, as by that point, I'd worked offshore in more than twenty countries.

My Dad had received a phone call from a member of 347 looking to contact me. I called him in Indiana. He told me the Senior D.I. S/Sgt Truax had died of Lou Gehrig's Disease.

He had located retired Major (former Sgt) Baggett in Pensacola, and that he was terminal with cancer (I'm sure from Agent Orange), as he had done multiple tours in V.N.

Keep in mind this is thirty eight (38) years later. I actually got nervous and stood up as I dialed the number.

He answered. I explained who I was and that, while I was sure he didn't remember me, I called to thank him for discipline / lessons he taught me that had remained with me since 1958.

He then said, "I remember you, you're that hoodlum from Boston."

One of the proudest moments of my life.​

Bill McDermott

"Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts."
--George F Tilton

Feather Merchants

Read your stories about The Corps with great interest. One of the recent ones about a Grunt commenting about one of the men in the Iwo flag raising having a bayonet on his carbine and all the resulting comments. Just maybe the carbine he used didn't have a bayonet socket - but that's a BIG maybe. Mine certainly had one and I kept the bayonet when mustering out in Dec. 1945. Google has PAGES of illustrations and words about the bayonet. There were two - a short (or knife) and the loonng one. Mine is the short, a USM 4 Imperial.

Also interesting are comments about the Old Corps and I have found no definition of this label - prior to WW II, China Service, or what. Don't know how I would fit into that category unless it includes us feather merchants who served in WW II. I got mine in Platoon 315 at MRDSD in the Spring of 1943, with a six digit serial number having an SS after it. I went in with a specific invitation from The President and chose to serve in the Marines. Can't remember my DI's name, but his side kick was a very tall lanky Corporal who had fought at the "Canal".

Went through the Radio School at MCBSD and upon graduation was assigned to the 6th Radio Intelligence Platoon training at Camp Elliott north of SD and later at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside. Along with 2,000 other passenger Marines and swabies, we boarded the USS Wasp on its breakdown cruise in record time. Westaged at Camp Catlin just East of Pearl until we boarded troop ship USS Elliott to join Task Force 58 on the way to Saipan. We were attached to the 5th Amphibious Corps Signal Battalion. Our intercept radiomen were assigned to the USS Rocky Mount as a part of the Task Force Signal Battalion. A few of our men took part in the Tinian invasion and all of us sailed on the SS Azalea City to return to Pearl.

The 6X6's that met us at the dock took us to Navy Radio 41 up in the hills above Honolulu.

The men who didn't already know Japanese Morse code attended school to learn it and all of us stood watch in the comm room handling radio traffic between the battlefield in the West Pacific and Navy Headquarters in D.C. It was somewhere that we were redesginated as the 5th RIP. We were reorganized and I was assigned to the 4th Division Joint Assault Signal Company (JASCO).

We now were training for the invasion of Japan when President Roosevelt died and continued until the B 29's operatng out of the Marianas dropped the Bomb that ended the War. I had enough points to return to the States and sailed on the USS Kalanin Bay, a Jeep carrier, to MCBSD and a train ride to Camp Lejeune to muster out.

Still close to the Corps, especially since so many of our time are transferring Home. Still going pretty well at nearly 92.

Semper Fi, Mac,
Burke O'Kelly​

Worst And Strangest Job I Had

Duty in the Old Corps

After World War II, I was stationed at Naval Prison, San Pedro because they were turning the Prison over to Los Angeles and we were taking Prisoners to Lock-ups closest to their home of Record. On board Trains we were in a Passenger Car all our own but to feed the Prisoners we had to take them to the Dining Car through Passenger cars with people staring at us, Prisoners marching through with leg Irons and Hand Cuffed right leg and right hand of his prisoner to the right leg and right hand of the next Prisoner. When we delivered them to the Prison, we marched the Prisoners into a cage outside the Prison, the Paper work was sent up to the Guard in a Tower by Basket and we went into another cage. Another basket was lowered and we sent our weapons up. A door opened in the Wall and the Prisoners went into the door into a secure Room, we went into the door into a cage nest to the Prisoners.

The Man in charge, a Navy CPO (only time I was under command of a Navy CPO while in the Marine Corps) signed the Papers turning the Prisoners over to the Prison and we left, picking up our weapons outside the Prison, they were lowered down to us from the Tower. Probably the worst and strangest job I had in the Corps.

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired

"No sir, I AM A MARINE"

So my wife and I are having breakfast at McDonalds and I'm wearing my Marine Corps cover and these two gentlemen stop me and ask me if I WAS a Marine. Stopping in my tracks I said "No sir, I AM A MARINE." Engaging them in conversation one of them asked if I was in Vietnam to which I replied affirmative and then he goes on to say how the Marines lost the battle of Khe Sanh. Then I feel my hands starting to clinch into a fist and think better of it and inform them how 6,000 Marines held off 20,000 hardcore North Vietnamese for 47 days until they broke the seize, all the while my voice raising. They said, "Oh." Realizing they might want to leave well enough alone they thanked me for my service and I wished them a good day. Upon returning to our booth my wife said I was very rude to them by announcing I AM A MARINE, to which I replied I wasn't being rude, I was simply setting them straight and they probably won't make that mistake again.

"They say you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink it, but in the Marine Corps they can d-mn well make them wish they had."

Tom Gillespie
RVN '70 - '71


Everybody Got Into The Act

I have to disagree with 1st Sgt Brewer, because the 8-man squad drill came in earlier than 8 March, 1957. I went to PI December 1954, Plt 464, and we d-mn well did squads drill. By mid- summer 1955, I was stationed at H&S Co, Basic School, Camp Upshur, Quantico. When we had an IG or other big inspection, there was a "battalion" parade and review all conducted in Squads Drill, (a strange battalion because enlisted personnel were heavily outnumbered by 2nd Lts at the School). They would even bring the big band up from mainside.

The commands would be something like "Pass In Review!", "Column of Platoons, Leading Platoon, Squads Right..." Then commands would ring out all over the field even down to the squad level, depending where you were: "Squads Right!", "Forward!", "Stand Fast!"... "MARCH!"

And off we would go to Semper Fidelis first, and then the Hymn as we passed the reviewing stand. Somewhere in there was the "on left into line" or "left front into line", whatever, because we passed the reviewing stands with platoons in a long, 2 deep line.

Great stuff, everybody got into the act.

Malcolm Forbes
147XXXX, Cpl, USMC

It's The Norm

Before I get to the gist of my tale, I would like to say that, prior to 9-11, I was never thanked for my service. Since then, quite often. Usually by other veterans. Not always, but usually. If it's a veteran, I return the salutation. If not, I just say thank you and you're welcome.

I ride with the Patriot Guard Riders and we escort the "Wreaths Across America" convoy of wreaths from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery every December. The escort takes a week and we make 20-30 stops at schools, Veterans homes, etc.

On the 2007 escort, one of our stops was at a grade school in Maine. It was about 25 degrees and snowing, but all the students were standing outside, waving flags to welcome us. In the attached pictures, you will see all the children are holding something in their hands. These were hand made "Thank You" cards, that they all had made. And, as we were getting ready to leave, every person in the convoy, was given one. I can tell you, there weren't many dry eyes as we pulled away.

I'm happy to say, that this type of reception is not unusual. It's the norm. That year we had about 50 people but only one Tractor trailer with 5000 wreaths. Now we have 150 folks, a dozen trucks, a bus with Gold Star family members and various police, fire and other support vehicles. And enough wreaths to cover Every grave at Arlington. My point being, there are teachers, in our education system, who get it and are instilling that respect and appreciation for our Veterans to our children.

Sgt Bill Michell
'65-'68, '75-'77​

RVN Maps

Certainly one of the more interesting of the many interactive maps we've seen of RVN camps/etc. Folks need to know to "zoom in" on the map and then navigate around at various zoom levels. I noticed that some of the various road designations have changed (for example in the A Shau Valley) but one can still work thru it all and find some of their old stomping grounds/areas they flew over/etc.

Vietnam War - US Facilities

When Properly Relieved

Note: Two related stories between two Marines.

Sgt Grit

Funny you would mention that incident at White Beach. Small world. I had just reported aboard the day before at the White Beach pier and heard what sounded like bombs going off about 4 AM. Seems a mini-typhoon was sweeping by and caught the St. Paul with half its length exposed and no pier tied to it. My XO, Lt. Joe Ruane, was OOD in port and had no clue what to do with a ship underway with no way on (zero engines running). We were being swept away with the bow still tied up but it was those 4 inch hawser lines popping that sounded like bombs. Amazingly the Snipe Boss, Cmdr Murphy, got the engines started in 30 minutes and only yards from going aground, broadside. That was Pfc Jones, my brow sentry who refused to be relieved by anyone except the Cpl of The Guard who posted him. Several Naval officers and a Chief tried their best to have him stand down, to no avail short of carrying his azs off. As you know it made Stars & Stripes... the lone sentry, at attention, looking out at the ship as it "left port". Yep, my first day on board!

Bob Fischer

​1960-1962, I was assigned to Marine Barracks, Naha... one of the Navy squadrons based there, VP-4, flew P2V's on patrol in the Taiwan Straits (inter-alia). On their bulletin board in one of the flight-line offices was a picture... a Marine, with M-1, standing at parade rest on a pier at White Beach. Behind him, lying on the pier, was what presumably had been the forward brow... and behind that was the Saint Paul, standing out to sea. The picture was captioned with a challenge to VP-4 sailors to exhibit similar dedication to assigned duties.

"I will quit my post only when properly relieved"...

Always wondered what happened to that sentry's Cpl of the Guard? I assumed the Saint Paul had received some sort of flap message to get underway ASAP...

​"Sea-going Dip"... is that a nerdy sailor?... or... a carefully shaped and cultivated crown on the cap, frame, one each... either white (for wear with Blues), green, or in way-back times, "tropical" (kahki color, but worsted wool materiel.) An affectation of many 'sea-going bellhops'... along with double-soled shoes (sometimes with metal taps or cleats), and the 'pony-tail' stand out knot in the field scarf (necktie, for you boots)... these non-regulation, but considered 'sharp' practices were also found at some Marine Barracks. Alas... MarDets (shipboard duty) and "Marine Barracks" are almost things of our storied past. There is still Eighth and I, but no other Barracks that I know of (OK... will Google it...), and Naval Bases are more likely to have civilian "Rent-A-Cops" standing gate watches...


EXCITEMENT! Shot And Missed​

Yo, Sgt Grit,

The letter, THE FORGOTTEN WAR, in today's Grit Newsletter almost jumped off the page at me! I want to assure Sgt. J. Davis, 7th Marines that those of you who fought in Korea have not been forgotten. My brother, Ken Lonn, Sgt, F-2-5, 1st MarDiv served in Korea from February 1951 to March 1952.

Thank you, Sgt Davis and all the other brave warriors for your service in a war that so many have shamefully forgotten!

About four years ago, Ken and I tossed around the idea of putting his experiences in book form. I had already published a fictional novel, titled American Holocaust, about Marines fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan, and I decided this would be a great way to honor my hero and all those brave guys who fought in that long-ago war!

The title of the book is EXCITEMENT! Shot And Missed. The official release date is in about two months, but the book can now be ordered direct from Tate Publishing (ISBN 978-1-68097-665-6). As I stated on the back cover of the book, "... recalls the good times and the not so good times, the laughs and the misery, the struggles and the accomplishments. This book will take the reader on an exciting journey from hometown U.S.A., through 'boot camp' and a year of combat, from a veteran's first person view of the realities of war."

The book not only tells his story in words but also in photos and paintings by Ken. His boot camp experiences in 1949 are very much like mine in 1964. In fact, an old Marine buddy of mine reviewed the book and wrote, "This is one of the best military books I've read! It brought back memories of my time in the Marines. Everyone, whether a Marine or not, will enjoy this riveting, first-hand account of the F-2-5 Marines in Korea. The chapters concerning boot camp, both poignant and funny, brought back many memories of my time at MCRD. This the real deal!"

MSgt Miles Kelly Hill, USMC Retired

So, to Sgt Davis and everyone else who fought/served in that war, SEMPER FIDELIS!

Bob Lonn
Once a Marine, Always a Marine!

I've had a copy of this message for a while and was wondering if this is a true story. You may have seen it already. Pretty spectacular if true.

Alex Dimitrew

Lost And Found

This May 19th, will be 50 years that our platoon, #119, of the 116 series, graduated boot camp. We were honor platoon of the series. We took the General's trophy, at the rifle range and we won drill comp. (the bronze boots are in the graduation picture). I haven't seen anything on a 50 year reunion, for our platoon, so, I plan on being at Parris Island, for the 50 year anniversary of the graduation of Plt #119. If anyone else plans to attend, I'll see you there. In the picture, I'm 5th from the left, on the top row.

Semper Fi,
Dick Martell
Cpl 2141XXX

I would like to hear from any of my DI's that put me through boot camp at Parris Island between 18 July 1950 - about 20 Sept. 1950 in Platoon #68. I don't remember any of their names, also I would like to hear from Marines I served with at Henderson Hall in the guard detachment 1951 - 1952, as back then we were walking guard duty at the Pentagon and other posts in the DC area.

Al Simmons

I am 4th from the left in the front row. Anyone out there from this platoon?

Richard Kirby

Short Rounds

To the Marine who wrote the story about Okinawa in early April '45. My uncle was aboard one of the radar picket DD's. USS Laffey is now a museum ship at Patriot's Point in S. Carolina. Also a great book written by the Skipper called, "The ship that wouldn't die".

Chuck "Doc" Stark

Snapping In:

Elbow under the piece, six o'clock on the bull.

Norm Spilleth

Platoon 228 Jan-Mar 1966, Head DI Hegarty, Assistant DIs Bailey and McGlauhlin. May God bless them for making me a Marine.

George Tabor

From a Vet of the REAL Marine Corps Boot Camp - Parris Island.

DI's favorite put down that I still use at home and work. YOUR LOWER THAN WHALE SH-T AND THAT'S AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN. Where did they find this stuff?

Brendan McCarron, Cpl, USMC, 1965 - 1969

SEMPER FI to all MARINES no matter which Boot Camp they suffered at.


"I liked the military life. They teach you self-sufficiency early on. I always say that I learned most of what I know about leadership in the Marine Corps. Certain basic principles stay with you - sometimes consciously, mostly unconsciously."
--Raymond Kelly

"For the majority of people liberty means only the system and the administrators they are used to."
--Albert Jay Nock

"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."
--Marcus Aurelius

"I've always been proud of being a Marine. I won't hesitate to defend the Corps."
--Jonathan Winters, comic and Marine

"Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary."
--Gen. A. M. Gray, USMC Commandant of the Marine Corps

"Forged on the anvil of discipline."

"Our enlistment has a start and finish date. The "Oath' does not."

"You're Bouncin' Girls, You're Bouncin'."

​Fair winds and following seas.
Sgt Grit

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